Journal Entry: September 9, 2009

Last week, before my first day of class, I mistook a respiratory virus for anxiety.

This week, there was no mistake. Anxiety shut me down. I didn’t sleep Monday night, and I didn’t eat anything yesterday until hours after the class. It was a miserable experience.

Also, as anxiety tends to be, it proved irrational and unfounded. My class went really well, but I’ll wait to go into real detail in a separate post. The good news is that, after exhausting my prepared comments within the first fifteen minutes of class last week (and panicking about it afterward), I managed to run out of time yesterday. And, even better, the (significant amount of) material I had to skip works perfectly in next week’s lecture, too.

Anyway, I took the afternoon off yesterday, and it proved to be a good thing. I went home for lunch and instead spent forty minutes lying on the bed in a dark room, trying to calm down. Then I packed up my laptop, hugged AB goodbye, and drove up to the school.

Class went really well, and afterward I headed to the offices to report as much to Cami, and found her speaking with Peggy Gipson — my creative writing teacher when I was at OC, and easily one of my mentors. Apart from emails, though, we hadn’t spoken since I got back from Tulsa, so we dismissed Cami and I took a seat in Peggy’s office, and we caught up. For more than an hour. It was awesome.

I got home around 3:30, and T– asked me to watch AB while she went grocery shopping. We watched part of a Sesame Street, then I suggested we got play outside and while AB played on her slide and climbed on her house, I mowed the back lawn. AB behaved really well for me while I did that, so when I finished I pushed her in her swing for a while.

We were still doing that when T– got home, so she took over for me and I went around front to finish mowing. It was almost three weeks of growth, after the Velezes’ visit two weeks ago and my sickness this last weekend, so the front yard especially was a lot of effort, but we’ve got guests coming in for a baby shower this weekend, and it needed to be done.

Once that was finished I grabbed a quick shower, and it was already six o’clock. T– told me her friend Becca was coming over, and I owed Becca a character design worksheet (that I’d discussed at one of our earlier writing groups), so I spent half an hour searching through my old high school Creative Writing notebooks, but it was nowhere to be found. I settled for copying her a Dungeons and Dragons character record sheet, and a copy of the custom ones D– and I made up for our fantasy project.

Then I emerged from the office for a much-needed dinner, which consisted of some Dominos pizza I paid for out of my allowance (because I’d had a rough day, and I deserved a treat). I just finished eating before Becca showed up with her two boys, and we talked shop for half an hour or so, going over some sticking points in her novel as she rushes toward its climax. Once she felt more comfortable with that, I left her to talk with T–, and went to play WoW.

That took the rest of my night, but it wasn’t really as much night as I’d hoped for it to have. Maybe two hours, and then I was in bed so I could make it to work on time this morning.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: September 8, 2009

In my blog post last Friday I went into great detail concerning a slow-build head cold I’d spent a week developing, but then never really talked about it. I talked about how I confused it with social anxiety for a couple days, but never said how I knew that was a misdiagnosis.

I knew by Thursday, though. It hit me hard on Thursday, and then kept me home from work on Friday. I went in in the morning to pick up my school laptop that I’d left behind on Thursday, and then went back in for a short teleconference in the afternoon, but apart from that I stayed home and convalesced.

Between medication and lots of rest, I felt up to going over to K– and N–‘s for dinner Friday night. We had hotdogs and watched the last preseason Cowboys game. It was entertaining, but mostly just left us wanting the regular season to start.

Saturday morning I watched AB while T– went shopping. Just before she got home, I got a phone call from a guy selling a $2,500 camera on eBay letting me know I’d won and asking me about shipping and payment arrangements.

This entire phone call came as a complete shock to me, of course, and I got to spend the rest of the morning dealing with eBay’s fraud department and getting my account re-secured. Turns out somebody had figured out my login credentials and made purchases in excess of eleven thousand dollars. Luckily (hah!) the check card associated with the account was stolen when we were robbed last December, so it had been canceled and no money changed hands.

Then around eleven T– went out again to go shopping with my little sister, and took AB with her that time, because I headed up to Vintage coffeehouse for some social writing with Courtney before T– planned to be home. Between worry over the eBay thing and a growing fuzziness from my lingering cold, I didn’t actually get any writing done. I chatted with Courtney and ate a remarkable turkey sandwich, and then begged off early and headed home.

I deteriorated from there, so when six o’clock rolled around and we were supposed to head out for some OU football at K– and N–‘s place, I decided I just couldn’t handle it. I called and offered my apologies, and then went to my room and took a nap. T– went over to hang out at my sister’s place and scrapbook, and I eventually woke up to grab some dinner and play some WoW. From what I heard, it was probably a more pleasant experience than watching the game would have been.

I wasn’t up terribly late Saturday night, even with the mid-evening nap, but I still managed to sleep through church Sunday for no other reason than that I forgot to set an alarm on my clock. I was up and dressed when T– got out of service, though, and we went to Taco Cabana with D– and my sister’s family for lunch. Then I took AB home for a nap and T– went over to my sister’s place for more scrapbooking and some maternity photos.

AB woke up a couple hours before T– got home, but we entertained ourselves with books and puzzles and counting poker chips. Then I spent most of the evening worrying about my class on Tuesday and playing WoW.

T– picked up some Chinese takeout for us for dinner, and after AB went to bed we spent a couple mostly-depressing hours watching Sunshine Cleaning. It’s got a happy ending, but it takes a pretty miserable path to get there. It’s like Uncorked for girls. Anyway, after that T– headed to bed, but I stayed up and watched I Love You, Man to cleanse the palate.

Monday morning we woke up early for a date! D– came over to watch AB, and T– and I grabbed some breakfast at Sonic before heading up to the mall for All About Steve at 10:05. The movie was…fascinating. It was good. It was Joe Dirt for girls. We had fun.

Then we stopped by Sears on the way to the car, and ended up buying my birthday present from T– a little bit early. She got me new shoes and a new watch (both badly needed), and I walked out of there looking dapper.

We picked up D– and AB for lunch at Chilis, then T– dropped D– and me at Best Buy to pick up some XBox games on sale while she ran to my sister’s place to drop off some stuff. Turned out there was no sale, though, so D– and I ended up wandering the aisles aimlessly until T– got back. It wasn’t too long, though.

After that D– went home, and AB went down for a nap. I settled in to play some WoW, and T– took advantage of my babysitting to go do some grocery shopping. She got back just as AB woke up, and we all watched TV for a couple hours. AB watched Nick Jr. videos on T– laptop, and T– and I watched a homemade marathon of season 4 of Newsradio.

T– heated up a frozen pizza for dinner, and other than that our evening looked exactly like our afternoon. At nine AB went to bed, and then I put away the computer and T– and I watched a Leverage. As soon as that was done I headed to bed, sick with anxiety over class tomorrow.

Which is to say, today. I’ve over the cold, but not the anxiety. It shouldn’t last much longer than five hours, though. So at least there’s that.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: September 4, 2009

Big week for me, so yeah I should have been posting regularly. But, then, it was a big week for me, so I had other stuff to do.

Starting with getting sick.

(Yes, I already did Sunday, just bear with me.)

Sunday morning I woke up with the sniffles and a severe, sinus-related headache — harkening back to the Sunday only two weeks before, when I went through the same thing. That one was short-lived, though….

This one has lingered. And grown.

So, yeah, Monday morning I woke up feeling pretty out-of-it and miserable, but I just assumed (with my big first day of school looming) that it was a social anxiety thing. Every now and then I’d stop and think, “Wait, this feels more like a head cold than an anxiety attack,” but then I’d just call myself silly because, after all, I had a big terrifying Event looming. Of course it was anxiety!

I went to work Monday, and then got home to an empty house because T– had AB at the grocery store with her. D– came over, and T– brought a pizza home with her, and we all had a pleasant dinner. Then T– took AB to go shopping with my little sister, and D– drove me up to Full Circle Bookstore for social writing.

It was just the two of us this time, and we both got a lot done. We wrote about a thousand words each, in two hours at the coffee shop, then headed down to the restaurant for an hour of good conversation. I got home a little after ten, and went straight to bed.

Tuesday morning I went in to work, and spent most of my time there answering coworkers who started conversations with, “Today’s the big day, huh? Are you ready?” And my answer was always, “Sure I’m ready! I’ve been doing this for seven years. All I have to do is show up, and start talking. I’ll fill an hour like that!”

Noon rolled around, and I headed home. I took the afternoon off, so I wouldn’t have to rush hither and thither on my first day of classes. Had lunch with T– and AB, grabbed my laptop, and headed up to the school. I’ll tell you all about my first class session in a separate post.

In brief, though, it didn’t go well. And, on top of all that, I was sick. I still suspected at the time that it was a response to the stress of the day, but that certainly didn’t lessen after class was over. I drove home, desperately glad I wasn’t supposed to go back to work, and crashed on the couch, and did nothing else for the rest of the day. I did watch AB while T– went grocery shopping, but that consisted mostly of stretching out on the couch, one arm over my eyes, and half-heartedly saying, “Don’t make a mess” while she watched TV and played with her puzzles.

Wednesday morning I woke up early and went to work, then slipped out halfway through the morning to see my doctor for my annual physical. I haven’t gotten any of the lab results back yet, but for the most part everything’s good. He’s got me back on Benicar for my blood pressure, but even that is much better than it was a year ago. He said if I can get my diastolic down by ten points, I can probably go off it altogether. So that’s my six-month goal.

Anyway, after that I went right back to work. Mid-afternoon I was chatting with T– and asked her about dinner plans and she reminded me that she was going out with Becca, and I was watching AB. So that was that.

I got home, and she left, and AB and I played in the living room for an hour or so before D– showed up. Then the three of us ran up to Taco Bueno to grab some dinner. Afterward AB crawled up next to me on the couch while I was poking around on Facebook, and she jabbed a finger at the screen, at my little profile photo, and said, “That’s you, Daddy!”

And I said, “It is!” and opened the photo up larger so she could see it. Then she started looking through all the little thumbnails on the screen, trying to spot people she recognized, and we played that game for fifteen minutes or so.

When she got bored of that, I set her up on T–‘s laptop watching really, really old episodes of Sesame Street, and D– and I played WoW. That carried us through to AB’s bedtime.

Then D– left and T– and I watched some Lie to Me, and then it was tomorrow.

My Tuesday-Thursday class is what we’re calling a “hybrid online course,” which means we’re meeting in class on Tuesdays, and then on Thursdays the students go to the school’s e-classroom website and watch a recorded lecture, get an assignment, and work on that over the weekend. Next Tuesday when we meet for class, we’ll go over the assignment before I launch into my lecture.

Anyway, that meant I didn’t have to go out to the school on Thursday, but I did have to get the online lecture put together. That…didn’t end up happening, for technical reasons. I posted the assignment, and I put together a heavily-illustrated tutorial (How to Write a Business Letter) that I made available, and I sent them an email saying, “Sorry, but I’m having technical problems so your lecture won’t be available until tomorrow. If you’re in a hurry to get started, check out the tutorial posted online.”

Not the best way to get started. In the process, though, I came up with a really great process for developing my online lectures. I was able to convert the illustrations in my tutorial directly into PowerPoint slides for the lecture, and use the text as a script for my voiceover. That lets me develop the lecture to my strengths (that is, tech writing), produce a useful lecture, and also have a well-made tutorial document left over when I’m done. That seems like a good thing all around.

Anyway, I took care of that yesterday, finishing it up in the early evening. T– made sloppy joes for dinner, I played WoW, and after AB went to bed we watched the last episode of Lie to Me. It was intense.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 31, 2009

Two days behind, and a busy weekend to cover, so brace yourselves.

Wednesday night we had dinner at Taco Bueno, with my sister’s family, K– and N–, and D–. The girls ran amok, we ate cheap Mexican food, and we discussed idle frustrations. Then, in perfect consensus, we all decided not to go to church.

I spent the evening in the office, scanning paperwork to throw away and rearranging the closet so I could store some crates and file folders that had been sitting out next to my desk ever since we swapped the office and the nursery.

That took all night, but it left me with the cleanest-looking office I’ve had in forever, which is something we did in anticipation of guests living there for a weekend.

Thursday I took a late lunch, planning for it to be a little bit of a long one, because I had a training session out at OC for using their online classroom tool, Blackboard. When I double-checked the schedule, though (after I’d left work and gone home to pick up my laptop), I discovered the class was an hour later than I’d thought. So I called in to work, had lunch with T– at T. G. I. Friday’s, and then spent a leisurely afternoon up at the university.

D– brought us dinner — Buffalo Wild Wings — then he headed home relatively early to work on a project for his mom, and T– and I spent the evening watching TV shows.

Friday was my RDO, so Friday morning when T– woke up early to run the garage sale again, I stayed in bed. I finally got up just in time to go grab some Little Caesar’s for lunch. I took AB up there with me, and then we ate together while T– was still manning the sales position outside. A few minutes before one she finally closed the sale down and came in to eat, and I headed out for a haircut.

When I got back home AB was taking a nap, so T– and I took the opportunity to work out in the garage, cleaning and rearranging all the stuff that had been used for the sale so that we could park both cars in the garage again. Then I brought my XBox and laptop out of the office (in anticipation of it being occupied for the weekend), and played some Magic while T– napped, and then switched to WoW on my laptop when AB woke up and needed the TV.

The thing about WoW…after being out of the game for six month, none of my characters are specced anymore. “Specced,” in this sense, means I haven’t spent the skill points acquired through the leveling process to customize them (choosing from among the talents that make your characters the most powerful). It’s a complicated process, and an unspecced character is essentially worthless. I’ve got three characters at 80 (maximum level), and unspecced they’re about as tough as 70s. The point of all this is that I logged into WoW Friday night, and discovered that I couldn’t really play it. To get my specs right would require literally hours of research into the newest changes to the skill trees and the most effective ways to spec to fit my playstyle. I looked around some, I logged in each of my characters just to see where they were, and then I spent about half an hour mining. That’s like logging into WoW to do chores.

So that was sobering and disappointing, after a week I’d spent gradually getting more and more excited about playing WoW again. It was not indicative of my evening, though.

T– made some fantastic barbecue chicken sandwiches for dinner. We watched some Lie to Me, and then just after we put AB to bed at nine, Julie and Carlos got in from Topeka!

Julie had a boxful of youth group photos (which I just realized I never actually looked through! Ack!), so she and T– went through those and commented while I chatted with Carlos. They’d also brought with them a couple bottles of wine from their recent trip to Napa, and we managed to empty both of those Friday night.

We got a late start, and though T– went to bed relatively early (albeit after midnight), the rest of us were up talking until after four.

Saturday morning T– got up early and discovered some of the veggies she’d bought for her special brunch dish had frozen in their drawer, so she had to go buy replacements. She took AB with her, ran up to Homeland, did some shopping, and got back to the house before any of the rest of us woke up. Then she made a goat cheese tart which tempted Carlos and Julie enough to wake them up, but I slept right through it. By all accounts, it was incredible.

I got up around noon, then ran up to McDonalds to grab some lunch for AB and me. I know, so tragic. The chicken sandwich was good, the fries weren’t. AB really enjoyed the Lego race car that came with her Happy Meal, though.

Then she went down for a nap, and T– and Julie went out in the back yard to shoot some cute maternity photos, and I showed off the XBox Magic game to Carlos. Or…used it to bore Carlos. Whatever.

When AB woke up, we all packed into the car and headed up to Guthrie for our big photoshoot. Julie’s in the process of becoming a professional photographer (although that “in the process” bit is something you’d have a hard time believing from the quality of her work), and the excuse we’d all used for their trip was to have her come shoot some maternity photos of T– and some profile photos of me for my website.

T– had recently found an old trainyard in Guthrie with some old, abandoned-looking buildings nearby that she thought might work as a good backdrop. When we got there, Julie fell instantly in love. She took three hundred photos of the three of us in just a couple hours. The settings were great, the lighting was good, and AB was remarkably cooperative. She and I finally started getting restless as the afternoon wore on, though, and between the two of us we convinced T– to take a dinner break.

We headed back to town, and took our guests to our new favorite restaurant — Mama Roja on the lake! So, yeah, that’s three times in nine days. What of it? It was fabulous, and everyone left happy.

Julie was able to point out to us the perfect lighting for photography that occurs just around dusk. That is, she was able to point it out through the window next to our booth, because there’d been something of a wait to be seated. So we watched the sun set, and didn’t get any more shots on Saturday night.

As soon as we got back to the house, Julie pulled out her laptop and got started editing. While she did that, we played them an episode of Lie to Me, and then T– regretfully admitted she was too tired to stay up, and she headed to bed.

Carlos and I spent a while talking band stuff, writing stuff, and whatnot. Then we broke into the scotch he’d brought along, and ended up sitting out on the porch sipping scotch and smoking cigars for several hours. Julie put away the laptop for a while to join us. We talked some about old times (as we’d done pretty much constantly up until that point), and then Carlos asked casually if I ever wrote any lyrics.

That became a proposition. He’s just started playing bass in a new band, and they perform only original stuff, but they don’t have a lot of songs written yet, so he was wondering if I would supply some material. By utter coincidence, I’ve been thinking much recently about trying my hand at writing songs again. So we talked about what sort of stuff he’s looking for and what sort of stuff I can do, and then I brought my laptop out on the porch and he showed me some videos of bands he’s been in and I showed him some of my best (and worst) material. When all was said and done, we both ended up incredibly excited about the opportunity to work together.

Then it got cold, and the laptop battery died, and Julie felt the itch to get back to work, so we went back inside. I put on Uncorked (or At Satchem Farm), which neither of them had seen, and fell in love with that movie all over again. Carlos was impressed with the guitar work.

It was after two when the movie ended and we went to bed. An improvement on the night before, but nothing approaching reasonable.

Sunday morning T– and AB went to church, but the rest of us slept through it.

We were all awake by the time she got home, though. She started working on lunch — her famous Tuscan chicken ring — and I ran up to the grocery store to grab some soda. By the time I got back, food was on the table.

We ate, and then we had plans to watch Nacho Libre (which our guests had never seen), but while we were waiting for T– to load the dishwasher I turned on the Rifftrax version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, just so Julie and Carlos could see how funny it was, and then by common consent we ended up watching all of that.

By the time that was done, Julie was finished with her marathon editing session, and we got to check out the photos on the TV. So good! You can see a bunch of them on T–‘s Facebook album. Julie will also do a blog post on her portfolio site sometime soon, and of course I’ll provide a link when that happens.

Anyway, we watched a slideshow of all 83 pictures (to a terribly appropriate soundtrack by Sting), and then T– decided to show Julie how Smugmug works (using my sister’s site as an example), so I put on the Cowboys preseason game from Saturday night and watched Romo tear up San Francisco.

I’m so ready for football season.

Around six we started decorating our French bread pizzas for dinner, and as soon as we were done eating we performed a quick costume change, and then headed back out to the lake for another photoshoot — this one in the prime dusk light. It went really well, and I think AB adored getting to spend so much time outside this weekend. It shows in all her smiles.

After that we drove back home and said lots of goodbyes, then Julie and Carlos got on the road back to Topeka, T– and I crashed on the couches, and we watched Psych and Leverage and Lie to Me while I tried to play WoW again. This time I focused on my Warlock, specced him on guesses (but I know my Warlock best, so they were probably pretty good guesses), and actually had a lot of fun. I ran a couple dungeons, checked out the new castle-defense battleground (way cool), and then picked up where I’d left off in questing. In that last, I remembered just how great the storyline is in Northrend (the most recent expansion), and I got excited about playing again all over again.

I finally tore myself out of that as midnight crept close, and I lay in bed for another hour before I fell asleep. This morning came too soon, and work with it, but even with the weird hours and the packed schedule, it was an awesome weekend. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 26, 2009

Yesterday we had an appointment to go out to a Wells Fargo office on Northwest Expressway and MacArthur to talk about refinancing a couple of our loans that are in a bad way. We’d arranged that appointment last week sometime, when the loan agent cold-called me, and then she called back yesterday morning confirm.

The appointment was for 5:30, so I left work at 4:30, drove half an hour home, picked up T– and AB, drove half an hour out to the Wells Fargo office, and learned that when she’d run the numbers on the loan (presumably right after our phone call last week), she’d found that we weren’t really qualified for anything that would be useful for us. So, in other words, we’d wasted our time. She tried to sell us a new credit card, we said no, and drove half an hour home.

So my evening started at 6:00. I did get a free can of Diet Dr Pepper out of it, though.

We had leftovers for dinner, and I began the process of surrendering my life back to the monster that is World of Warcraft (which is to say, I started copying 12 gigs of data to my new laptop). Then while that ran, I played with AB and read her a couple books.

After she went to bed, we watched Lie to Me. Then we went to bed. It wasn’t much of a night. I had fun playing with AB, though.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 24, 2009

Friday afternoon I got home in a bad mood from work, walked into the kitchen to pour myself a Coke and after a quick, “Welcome home!” T– told me a little about her day, and then said, “Oh, and I’ve got all my stuff ready.”

And the words, “Ready for what?” died on my lips. She had a crop Friday night. I’d known about it for a month. I was not in any mood to watch AB, though.

I had about half an hour to change that. Luckily, AB woke up and ran to me with a big, “Daddddy!” that did a lot to make the transition easier. Then right after T– headed to the church, D– called and asked if I wanted a snowcone, so that (and his company for the evening) helped a lot, too.

Actually, it ended up being a pretty fun night. We went up to McDonalds so AB could play in the play area, then came back home and I set her up watching videos on T–‘s laptop while D– and I broke out the Rock Band. She’d periodically throw off the headphones to come dance to our music. That was fun.

Then around bedtime I played with her a bit, put her to sleep, and then got back to rocking with D– until T– got home. At that point I seriously considered going out and wrecking another weekend with poor decision-making, but somehow overwhelmed that impulse. I watched an episode of Lie to Me with T–, and then went to bed elevenish.

Saturday morning I woke up late and mowed the lawn, and suddenly it was 1:00. I had some leftover barbecue and it was as good as new, then poked around on the computer for a few minutes, and then it was time to go.

“Time to go” because we had our second monthly Britton Road writer’s group on Saturday. I threw in a bunch of modifiers there, because this was a sequel to our writer’s group last month, not to the social writing at the coffee shop last Tuesday. The follow-up to that event takes place tonight, at Full Circle Bookstore, and will likely feature many of the same people who were at the thing on Saturday. I know it’s confusing. I’ll try to come up with clear distinctions of the two things (or convince both groups to merge them into a seamless whole), but for now, you’ll have to wade through explanatory paragraphs like this one.

But, yeah, “time to go” because we had our second monthly Britton Road writer’s group on Saturday. Courtney hosted again, and I showed up a few minutes after J. T., and Shawn showed up a few minutes later. We had German Iced Tea, and gave feedback on each others’ submitted works. J. T. submitted a couple short-form poems, Courtney submitted a truly chilling short story, and Shawn submitted a one-act play that clocked in right around seven pages. Oh, and I submitted all 200-plus pages of Gods Tomorrow. Don’t judge me. That’s just who I am.

We had some great discussion, though. We talked about structured writing, and longhand drafts, and early efforts, and then spent about half our time on psychological disorders. We had an expert among us (of the “trained professional” variety, not simply “longtime sufferer”), and we ended up with some really great information.

We were done with that by 4:30, but T– had taken AB over to my little sister’s place, so I had some free time in the afternoon. I spent it playing Magic on the XBox, and pretty much stuck with that until T– put AB down for bed. Then we watched a little TV, and she went to bed, and I stayed up to play a bunch more Magic on the XBox.

Sunday morning T– took AB to a special event (along with my little sister and her girls). Unwilling to face the adversity that is Christian fellowship without the protective barrier of my perfect little family, I decided to skip church. Around 11:30 I called D– up, and we headed to Edmond to meet the girls at Jason’s Deli for lunch. It was delicious.

Then D– took me home, and I spent much of the afternoon playing Magic on the XBox. I finally had to put it away when T– invited my sister’s family over for dinner (she grilled hotdogs). While we were waiting for them to show up, I set up the Rock Band stuff, and after a quick dinner we sent the little ones to AB’s room to play, and then we spent a couple hours rocking out. That was pretty fun.

After the guests left, T– and I watched an episode of Psych, and discussed watching something else serious, but we weren’t in the mood for serious. It was late, anyway, so we gave up and went to bed.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 20, 2009

We had our Wednesday night meal yesterday, but K– was feeling sick so we had to get by without him and N–. My little sister requested barbecue, but we’re a pretty picky family when it comes to what barbecue we’ll eat, and the only place currently high in our esteem (Steve’s Rib) is miles and miles away.

Not far from my little sister’s house.

So she graciously offered to pick up a family pack and bring it to our place, and we had an awesome dinner. D– joined us for that, and after we’d cleared our plates D– and I got to work unpacking his newly-arrived Rock Band 2 set, including (for the first time) the wireless instruments. I also took another stab at repairing my incredibly cool drum pedal, but didn’t end up testing it last night because I wanted to give the glue lots of time to set up.

Anyway, around eight we had everything put together, and then we spent another half hour scrolling through the list of downloadable content sorting the I-love-that-song set from the I-must-have-that-song-right-this-moment set. Then D– bought all the must-haves, including something by Journey for T–.

Then we played. AB wasn’t too happy being excluded and ignored, but it’s been nine months since we’ve really played Rock Band, and we got into it. We did set up the old, wired drum set in front of the TV, lowered down to knee-height, and placed AB’s rocking chair in front of it so she could play along with us. That was pretty cute.

But yeah, that was all we did for the rest of the night. Next thing we knew, it was 10:30, and we had to make ourselves quit. Much of the conversation throughout was anticipation of the Beatles Rock Band coming out early next month. That…should be interesting.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 18, 2009

It’s been a while, so I need to get caught up. If you don’t want to read the big long blog post, there’s this: We had a garage sale over the weekend, and I caught a cold that lasted somewhere around 36 hours. That’s it.

Last Thursday night, my little sister came over to help T– get ready for our garage sale. They spent much of the evening organizing tables and setting out stuff and affixing price stickers. When I got home from work, T– was working in the garage and asked me to help arrange some stuff, so I spent half an hour or so dragging two sawhorses out into position, brushing off the dust and cobwebs, and then setting up our old window A/C units from the Tulsa house on them.

Those big monstrosities had been obnoxiously taking up space in our garage for most of a year, but we didn’t know how to get rid of them, so we were really hoping to sell them in the garage sale. Unfortunately, that meant I had to find some way to move them into position, and that was no small amount of work. Then I spent a little more time getting them presentable before finally wimping out with the old “it’s way too hot out here for human survival” bit and going inside.

T– and my sister followed suit before too long, and we spent most of the rest of the evening in the living room. T– kept working on getting stuff ready (and I eventually went to my office and gathered some old computer stuff to add at the last minute), and my sister set up ads on Craigslist and Facebook to get more people to come by. It was a long evening in anticipation of Friday.

Friday morning T– got up around six to open the garage sale early. I woke up…not nearly so early. I think it was around 7:30, and I got cleaned up then took AB over to Miss Becky’s house for some babysitting, then from there drove up to the car dealership in Edmond to have the new car checked out. We’d spent most of the last week noticing a strong antifreeze smell whenever we were in the car, and as it doesn’t have any sort of engine temp indicator on the dash, we figured we’d be better off just taking the car in.

I elected to hang out at the dealership while the mechanics looked the car over, and I got nearly a thousand words written in my scribblebook before the guy came by to tell me he didn’t smell anything in the car, and a quick check hadn’t revealed any leaks, so I could go home.

That was a little frustrating, since it had taken up most of my morning. But I got back to the house and learned that we’d already sold one of the air conditioners. I also found E– and N– both there keeping T– and my sister company and helping them with the garage sale. So that was nice!

I ran up to Wendy’s to grab them some lunch, and when I got back I spent some time talking with N– and playing with baby Jason while we ate, then I had to pack up pretty quickly and head up to OC, because I had some work I needed to take care of and then I needed to pick up AB from Becky’s.

At OC I got my parking decal from the security office, then dropped by IT to pick up my laptop. That “dropped by” ended up being an hour-long process, though, because we had to get the laptop set up on the network in two different operating systems and the tech had to walk me through some of the specific software I’ll need to be using. It was productive time, but an unexpected delay.

As a result I was a little late picking up AB, but Becky didn’t seem to mind. AB sure didn’t. She spent the half-hour drive home telling me how much fun she’d had, and how she was not tired and she did not need a nap. Then we got home, and she walked straight to her room and went to bed.

The garage sale was already closed down by then, so I went to the office to play some games while AB napped. Then, as afternoon rolled toward evening, we got in touch with K– and N– and invited them over for pizza and preseason football.

The pizza was better than the football. Still, it was fun in a premonitive kind of way. I can’t wait for football season to get in full swing. Anyway, K– and N– hung around until about half time. For some reason I watched the whole rest of the game after they went home. It kept me up late, and left me utterly disappointed in our third-string defense. Our backup backup quarterback looks surprisingly good, though.

Saturday, again, I got up way too early for a day off, but it was still a couple hours later than T– had gotten up. By way of making amends, I took AB with me and ran up to Panera to buy T– a cinnamon crunch bagel for breakfast. AB and I shared a bearclaw.

Speaking of AB and me…we both woke up with a cough, and a sore throat. She expressed hers with a gravelly baritone. I expressed mine with much whining.

Anyway, by early afternoon I was already feeling sickly with fever, so I put AB down for a nap and then went to the office to play Fallout and ended up taking a nap of my own. That lasted a little over an hour before my brother-in-law called me up and said he wanted to try playing Magic over Xbox Live, and that turned out to be pretty fun.

I’d made plans to get together with some other people from my writing group at a coffee shop Saturday night, but around five, driving up to Taco Bueno to grab some dinner for T–, I decided with some confidence that it wasn’t going to happen. I forgot to call D–, though, so he showed up right after dinner only for me to tell him I was sick, and he should go somewhere else. He went to see The Goods which, he tells me, wasn’t.

I spent the evening lying around, then eventually went back to the office to play some more Magic, and while I was doing that my brother-in-law joined in again. Between my afternoon nap and my non-drowsy decongestant, I wasn’t close to tired, so we ended up playing until two in the morning. When I finally went to bed, I still couldn’t sleep.

Sunday morning I woke up around eight when AB jumped up onto the bed next to me, but I just gave her a hug and fell right back to sleep. I woke up again around eleven, and then again around noon when T– called to tell me they were headed to Olive Garden for lunch. I passed on that opportunity, but a few minutes later K– called to ask if I could help him hang a swing in his back yard. He had helped immensely when I hung AB’s in our yard, so I didn’t want to tell him no. I warned him I could be contagious, but he didn’t seem too concerned.

So I drove up to Edmond, and learned when I got there that his tallest ladder on its tallest setting was about five feet too short to reach the limb he wanted to hang the swing from. For a moment I thought that meant I had wasted a drive to Edmond, but he quickly set me straight. Instead, it just meant that we had to get creative.

Before everything was said and done we were chucking tethered wrenches over tree limbs twenty feet up and tying nooses. It was a good ol’ Sunday afternoon in the midwest. The swings turned out nicely, though, and it really only took a couple hours.

On the drive home I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner Thursday, but I really didn’t feel hungry. I got to the house and told T– about hanging the swings and then played with AB a little bit when she woke up from her nap, and then as evening rolled in we started talking about dinner and none of us really had any strong feelings on the matter.

Around seven I called up D– to ask what he’d had, just for extra ideas, and he said he’d been wrestling with what to eat, too. So I had him come pick me up and we stopped by Homeland to pick up some microwave popcorn for T– (the choice she finally settled on), and then we drove up to Johnny’s for a couple Theta Burgers and fries. That hit the spot.

After dinner D– went home, and T– and I watched a little TV before retiring relatively early.

Monday morning I woke up and felt completely better. Immune-wise, anyway. Obviously I wasn’t too thrilled about having to go back to work. Still, it pays the bills.

I spent the day doing excessively boring things, then got home and worked out while T– and AB were at the grocery store. Afterward we had dinner, and I scheduled another writing-at-the-coffee-shop (I’m calling it social writing) for Tuesday night, hoping I could stay well and a little bit of advance notice would garner a bigger turnout.

T– made chicken crescent squares for dinner — one of her specialties — and after AB went to bed we watched the first episode of Lie to Me. That’s one D– recommended to us months ago, and it was a good recommendation. We really enjoyed it.

Still dragging a bit, we went to bed pretty early Monday night, but didn’t get a lot of sleep. A thunderstorm rolled in around two, and that kept AB awake all night, and she kept us awake.

As a result of the long night, I woke up late. T– and I had already had plans to meet for lunch, so I just called my supervisor and told him to expect me after lunch, and took the morning off. I spent some time in the kitchen putting together my chili fixins for supper, and then got some paperwork taken care of in the office, and then we went up to Schlotzky’s for lunch. It wasn’t a terribly exciting morning, but it was pretty pleasant.

Then I spent the afternoon at work doing some excruciatingly boring stuff, which was interrupted by an unexpected summons to give a presentation to a packed conference room and try to explain to them the excruciatingly boring stuff I’d been doing.

I survived that, and got out of there just in time to head home. Five minutes into my commute, though — just as I turned onto I-44 northbound — I ran into standstill traffic and heard a traffic report explaining that a semi had knocked over a power pole and there were power lines down across the highway about a mile north of where I was, so they’d closed the highway. The recommendation that commuters find an alternate route didn’t really do me much good by that point. So instead of half an hour it took me an hour and a half to get home.

My angel of a wife had dinner ready when I walked in the door, though, and it was one of my favorites. D– joined us for that, too, but then headed home right afterward. T– and AB went to Hobby Lobby with my little sister, and I headed to the coffee shop for my scheduled social writing.

I’d said it would be seven to ten, but I overestimated the distance from my house, so I actually got there twenty minutes early. That turned out to be a good thing, though, because the place was pretty packed. I snagged a spot, and dragged out my scribblebook, and got nearly a thousand words written before Courtney showed up. A few minutes later Becca showed up, too, and we moved to a newly-free table so they could plug in their laptops.

We didn’t really do any writing after that, but it was a fun evening. Becca’s been working on her novel for several months now, but it’s the first major writing work she’s done, and this was our first opportunity to really talk about it. I’d been looking forward to that conversation, but I think it probably went a lot better with Courtney there too, giving another experienced angle. I just hope it wasn’t too overwhelming.

Still, the mentoring bit only lasted ten to twenty minutes, and then it was just discussion of all our roadblocks for most of the rest of the evening. Both of them happened to be struggling getting into the heads of their major male characters, and I think I was able to provide some useful insights on that topic. We talked a lot about vampires, too, and psychopaths and sociopaths, and the challenge of writing easy dialog. Writer stuff.

Then around 9:20 the proprietor quite politely kicked us out, so he could go pick up his brother-in-law (returning home from a deployment to Iraq) from the airport. How could we object to that? Before we split up we decided to try another one at 50 Penn Place next Monday, but before that rolls around I’ve got another official Writer’s Group meeting on Saturday.

My life is just too busy. Courtney asked me last night how many projects I’m working on, and after some consideration I believe I have five active, unfinished novels, and five finished ones that need immediate, extensive rewrites. So call that ten big writing projects, with numberless others waiting in the wings.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 13, 2009

I’ve had a Draft email with no recipient sitting in my GMail inbox for a week now. It goes as follows:

Well, to be fair, I did solve all crime, most hunger, energy dependence on fossil fuels, voter apathy, predatory lending, and unemployment BEFORE I started working on skanky sluts.

That was never actually meant to be an email. It was a reply I had ready for a conversation thread I started on Facebook when I posted the status update “Aaron Pogue is considering the real-world consequences of on-demand real-time modeling of the statistical distribution of sexually adventuresome barflies across a city’s club district. Y’know, for my books.”

It only occurred to me after I’d posted that that I have a bunch of church friends and dear old grannies who follow me on Facebook. So I did what I could to explain what I was getting at, and came up with a clever defense in case somebody challenged me for thinking about such things at all. But nobody did. So I’m manufacturing a setting in which I can share it with you guys.

Anyway, I had a ridiculously and unpleasantly busy day at work yesterday, and so I owe two days worth of diary. Tuesday night D– came over to hang out, and T– picked up McDonalds for us for dinner. Then we left AB playing under D–‘s watchful eye while T– and I went out to the garage to start prepping for the garage sale. We boxed up some stuff, moved some stuff around, and then I brought three old, haphazard socket sets into the living room and spent an hour sorting them out so we can sell down to just one.

After that I gave up on being useful for the night and went to the office to play Fallout until my bedtime. Then I loaded up a new Magic: The Gathering game I’d gotten through XBox Live Arcade, just to play for a couple minutes, and ended up playing that until midnight. Ugh.

Then I had to go to work yesterday, and it was awful.

Afterward, D– rode with us to dinner at Moe’s where we met K– and N–. It was a little chaotic with all of us squeezing around a booth meant for four, but fun! And of course the food was delicious. Then afterward K– and N– headed home and we went to grab snow cones before heading to Office Depot, then Hobby Lobby, then a different Office Depot in search of supplies for a project T– is working on. I spent most of that time trying out a Civilization game on D–‘s iPhone, so I had a good time. AB was pretty sick of her car seat by the time we got back to the house, though.

Then we watched some Conan and a little Psych before I headed back to the office to play some more Fallout while T– did some work on her laptop.

Oh, and then just before I woke up this morning I had an exceedingly odd dream which could best be titled “Drunk-driving Miss Daisy.”

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: August 3, 2009

Last Friday I got to work to find an email from the Deputy Secretary of Transportation encouraging all FAA managers and supervisors to support a (highly symbolic) DOT Telework Day. Any employees who wanted to were encouraged to try out telework (that is to say, working from home), in the hopes of more permanent adoption.

We got that email on Friday, when 2/3 of the office was out on RDO (including, I should point out, all the managers and supervisors). DOT Telework Day is today. That was the least useful Department-wide memo ever sent.

Anyway, contractors are not allowed to telework, so it never would’ve mattered to me. Still, bummer.

I got home from work a little early on Friday, which gave me time to work out before heading out to our July Poker Night. (Yep — just barely slipped that one in). My sister let us use her place again, and D– and K– both made it. D– brought with him ingredients for a vodka cocktail called the “O. G. Diddy,” and after his clumsy attempts to make it I took over bartending and we all found the drink remarkably good. So remarkable, in fact, that it directed the fortunes of all our evenings (and most of our mornings on Saturday, too).

We defied nomenclature and played Rock Band for a couple hours, until someone’s wild thrashing brought the XBox crashing off its shelf and engraved the Rock Band disc with a shiny silver line that rendered it worthless. Instead of being concerned, we probably laughed hysterically. It was that kind of night.

Then we played poker for two hours and watched Mean Girls. After that, a little bit past midnight, my little sister drove us all home. I stayed up for a bit playing Fallout and hydrating, and cursing myself for making the same fool mistake two weeks in a row.

Saturday morning saw me awake a bit before nine, and I killed a couple hours working on the computer and playing with AB. Then, half past noon, we headed to Edmond for my niece’s birthday party.

That was at McDonalds, and we had family from Dallas up to visit, as well as my dad and brother-in-law (with all his little ones) from Little Rock. The party was two hours in an enclosed play area with, what, ten kids under ten-years-old. It was a lot of noise, with echoes. I gather from more reliable sources that it was a lovely party for a four-year-old. So I’ll leave it at that.

Afterward T– took AB to go swimming with the rest of the party guests, but I went back home for a nap. Ended up playing Fallout instead, but it was just as recuperative. T– brought AB home for a late nap, and when she woke up we headed back to Edmond for dinner at my sister’s house. There was pizza for all, and movies for the little ones. Dad got started watching The Incredibles, which he’d never seen before, and found he actually liked it.

Halfway through the movie, I had to leave to head over to K– and N–‘s place so they could go watch Harry Potter. Dad came with me, tearing himself away from the movie, but he was gratified to learn when we arrived that K– had a copy of it, too. They put the baby down to sleep, then headed to the movie, and all I had to do for the night was be there in case of emergency (and, of course, there was none).

While we waited, Dad got out his laptop and I borrowed N–‘s, and we watched The Incredibles and talked about getting published. Dad talked me into querying a new literary agent who’s specializing in science fiction and fantasy, and I talked him into starting a blog. We spent much of the next three hours doing the tedious work necessary to follow through on those ideas.

Then one o’clock rolled around and K– and N– rolled home, and we got their quick opinion on the movie and then headed home to get some sleep.

Sunday morning we woke up late enough to skip Bible class but early en0ugh to grab donuts on the way to service. Or, as I like to call it, “the magic hour.”

I delivered unto Courtney her marked-up manuscript, then hastily took our seats before service started. We ended up filling the row with family, when my sister brought all hers and the brother-in-law with his, and N– had to sit in the row behind us.

Afterward, the whole family went to P. F. Chang’s for lunch, which was a mess. I’m just saying, that’s a lot of little kids. It was awesome as always, though. Then we said goodbyes in the parking lot, and the Little Rock folks headed home, and we took AB home for a nap, and then…I guess I spent the afternoon playing Fallout.

That game has to come to an end at some point, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. That’s okay, I didn’t really want to get a book finished this month anyway.

We’d decided on the way home from lunch that we wanted to have dinner at the newly-opened Freddy’s on north Penn., so as six o’clock rolled around, we called D– and K– and N– to see if anyone of them wanted to join us, and they all said yes. When we got to the restaurant, I heard a woman call out my name just inside the door, and we turned to find our stylist, Karen, there with her friends. She got to meet AB for the first time, and T– and I both got to fight down the urge to introduce her to D–. Then she went back to her booth, and we went to ours, and we had phenomenal cheesesteaks for supper.

And frozen custard for dessert.

And then when we got home we had just time to watch an episode of Leverage, and then put AB to bed, and then it was bedtime for us, too. We read for a while, and gradually drifted off to sleep.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.